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Study: Law That Regulates Shark Fishery Is Too Liberal; 'It Does Not Prevent Waste Or Overfishing'
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Shark fins are worth more than other parts of the shark and are often removed from the body, which gets thrown back into the sea. To curtail this wasteful practice, many countries allow the fins to be landed detached from shark bodies, as long as their weight does not exceed five per cent of the total shark catch. New University of British Columbia research shows that this kind of legislation is too liberal.

A study published this week in the journal Fish Biology analyzes the fin to body weight ratios for 50 different shark species. The authors find the average fin to body mass is three per cent – considerably lower than the five per cent ratio currently legislated by the EU and other countries.

"The five percent ratio provides an opportunity to harvest extra fins from more sharks without retaining 100 per cent of the corresponding shark carcasses," says Sea Around Us Project researcher Leah Biery, lead author of the study. "It does not prevent waste or overfishing, as the law intended."

Currently, the EU and eight other countries use at least a five per cent shark fin to body weight ratio for landed catch. Only 59 countries in the world have any legislation related to sharks.

"Sharks are sensitive to overfishing and it's embarrassing how little we have done to protect them," says Daniel Pauly, principal investigator of UBC's Sea Around Us Project and co-author of the study. "We would like to see more science in the management and protection of sharks in the coming years."

Researchers estimate about 26 to 73 million sharks are killed each year to feed the growing demand for shark fin. Sharks are sensitive to overfishing because they often grow slowly, mature later, and have very few offspring.

Canada MP Fin Donnelly introduced a bill last December that would ban the import of shark fin into Canada, but it has not been voted on. The Canadian municipalities of Brantford, Mississauga, Oakville, Pickering, London and Toronto have all banned the sale and possession of shark fin.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

11 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

Please tell me why we simply can't leave shark alone. Is a bowel of this soup than damn good anyway? Is it worth betting the oceans environment on? Try making this with soybean...after all the crabmeat, and hamburgers aren't that bad. (WAKE UP PEOPLE) as time has been ticking far to long already so, let's save all shark species...the keepers of the ocean realm.
   comment# 1   - Tony DeMaio · Morrilton: USA · Mar 5, 2012 @ 2:36pm

Shark finning is one of the most savage greedy grotesque form of fishing to any species. What The Japanese do is kill 97% of the Shark and continue whaling what they are doing is inhumane and inexcusable..
   comment# 2   - Pete M · U.S.A. Ronkonkoma N.Y. 11779 · Mar 5, 2012 @ 3:04pm

Shark Fins are cut off and used for what some very uninformed world populations consider medicine. It has no more medicinal purposes than the trimmings off of your own fingernails. We need to start economic sanctions against the countries that continue the practice of "finning". Better yet put a bounty out for the cockroachs caught doing the finning. Cut their hands and feet off and throw them back in the water and let the sharks have a little fun!
   comment# 3   - Jerry w · South Carolina, USA · Mar 5, 2012 @ 4:16pm

I hate those evil sharks. I'm scared they will bite me. They are my greatest fear so............eat dem sharks before they eat you!
   comment# 4   - bobby licious · new york,new york · Mar 5, 2012 @ 4:55pm

a shark is a living creature that was put here for a reason. what is happening is unjust and inhumane. no different than a croc or a gator. leave them alone
   comment# 5   - cheryl · lexington,usa · Mar 5, 2012 @ 6:55pm

until man get it we are destroying this wonderful plantet bit by bit
   comment# 6   - Rodney · inwood,usa · Mar 6, 2012 @ 5:34am

Who gives a f**k about sharks? I am all for making them extinct. One less thing to worry about when swimming in the ocean. I don't believe for a second that the ecology of the oceans would be ruined forever. Nature would find a way, minus the shark. So keep eating shark fin soup. The more you eat, the quicker we make this dangerous fish extinct. Anyone thinking differently, maybe you should be extinct also.
   comment# 7   - frank Little · Toronto, Canada · Mar 6, 2012 @ 10:55am

If they are "actually" killing 26 to 73 million sharks EVERY YEAR (a very professional 50% spread guess), then the fishery must be in good health to keep producing these numbers for harvest year after year after year after year. I have eaten shark meat, it is very good. So, is this "the sky is falling"..I think so....jump in the ocean anywhere and the sharks will let you know their population is still producing in good numbers. There are zillions of gallons of sea water in the oceans of the world and there are zillions of sharks too IMO......
   comment# 8   - Hose B · New Mexico · Mar 6, 2012 @ 12:00pm

What a sick think to do to such a magnificent creature. Just another example of how unsuperior us "superior" being are in reality. It is such a sickening practice. Just like the recent elephant slaughter in the Congo. For what? So one day there will be billions upon billions of people on this Earth and no animals or even any green spaces left. Mother nature WILL exact her revenge upon mankind by giving him enough rope to hang himself with. We are the very defanition of shortsighted.
   comment# 9   - Mark Alpern · Key West Florida · Mar 6, 2012 @ 5:54pm

Man just continues to destroy everything in his path. We continue to upset the balance of nature . These cruel practices should be tried on those despicable people just as the previous reader suggested I agree with sanctions but the united states is too greedy and corrupt If money loss is involved ,the usa won't protect anything
   comment# 10   - m s · buffalo ny · Mar 7, 2012 @ 5:53pm

Wow, I never expected that so many people would be oblivious to this problem. Sharks are of critical importance to the many ocean ecosystems that they inhabit. The loss of sharks will have a devastating effect upon the seas. Already, there are areas that have been terribly affected by the loss of sharks. The US eastern seaboard, for one, has lost most of it's scallop fishery. The scallops were eaten by rays, which overpopulated when the sharks were overfished. The overabundance of rays ate all the scallops, decimating the beds and causing major financial hardship to the scallop fishermen on the east coast. (This is the nickle version, but look it up--it's real, and it's no laughing matter) Shark fin soup is terribly overrated anyway. I am a chef, and I have tasted shark fin soup, albeit 20 years ago. The fin adds no actual flavor of it's own, and is only there for textural appeal, such as it is. The flavor of the broth is derived from the rich chicken and/or pork stock used as a base for the dish. This with various seasonings, depending on the version of the dish, completes the soup. As such, the broth would be delicious without any shark fin at all. It would not be missed.
   comment# 11   - Jack Trevally · Columbia, USA · Mar 8, 2012 @ 6:25pm
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